Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea, sourced by What-Cha from the Greenland Organic Farm in eastern Nepal. You may view and purchase this tea by visiting the What-Cha website.

I covered the Greenland Organic Farm in a previous post, Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea. I would like to acknowledge What-Cha for the wide variety of teas from origins that you do not see being offered very often by other tea businesses. There are teas from Iran, Azerbaijan, Azores, Georgia, Russia, and in their Discover Europe Collection, a green tea from Turkey. A little more common, but not quite mainstream, are the teas from Malawi, Vietnam, South Korea, and Nepal. If you are getting a bit bored with the more mainstream Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Ceylon teas, then What-Cha is a good source for the taste of an unfamiliar tea terroir.

The sample packet has been opened, and a swift punch of malt and cracked toasted grains just hit me in the nose. Is this a black tea or a homebrewing beer kit? Let the journey begin…

Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea Dry Leaves
Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves consist mostly of golden buds, with the remaining leaves being charcoal black. The buds are covered in fine golden hairs. The pluck is a fine leaf and bud. There are a few bare stems in the mix. Many of the buds and leaves are unbroken, and there are some fragments ranging in size from small to large. The buds and leaves appear to be twisted. The leaves have a smooth texture, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The average length of the unbroken buds is just under one inch (25 mm). The smell is incredible and strong, with scents of malt, toasted grains, sweet hay, dandelion, and a touch of raw honey.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time. A very light, yet refreshing, third infusion can be prepared.

Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea Liquor
Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a rich, golden orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of malt, toasted grains, honey, dandelion, sweet hay, and nectar. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, raw honey-like tongue coating texture. There is little astringency. The taste has notes of malt, toasted grains, honey, nectar, dandelion, and hay. The aftertaste carries the malt, nectar, and dandelion notes, and a lightly floral, sweet essence is left on the breath.

Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea Infused Leaves
Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform yellowish-brown color. There is a generous portion of whole, unbroken buds and leaves, along with some small to large sized fragments. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The pluck is one fine leaf and a bud. The buds have swollen some, and measure about one inch (25 mm) in length. The buds and leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The smell has scents of malt, toasted grains, dandelion, hay, and nectar.

The Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea is a rich, sweet smelling and tasting black tea that is very satisfying. Far from being overwhelming, this black tea needs no additives whatsoever to be fully enjoyed, but I can imagine that a small splash of coconut or almond milk may turn this tea into quite a treat. The malt character can be recognized at all phases of the experience, and the notes of toasted grains is a perfect compliment. If you are like me and enjoy a malty lager with dinner, this tea may be your new drink of choice at breakfast.

Many thanks to the management at What-Cha for providing this sample of Nepal Second Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea. Cheers!

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Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea from Lochan Tea

The focus of this review is the Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Black Tea from Harmutty Tea Estate and Lochan Tea. The Harmutty Tea Estate is located in Upper Assam, and consists of 374 hectates (924 acres) of land. Harmutty Tea Estate was established in 1870, and is now owned by the highly recognized Goodricke Group and Stewart Holl Ltd.

According to the Goodricke Group website, the estate was named after Queen Harimati, married to King Arimatta. Their kingdom is believed to have spread throughout lower Assam. The queens grave rests next to the Maj Bungalow. Given the estates location by the Dikrong River, and the vast undisturbed forests nearby, the Harmutty Tea Estate is known for offering visitors beautiful landscape views, and opportunities to see wildlife venturing out from the forests.

The sample packet has been opened, and the appearance of the tea matches the product name perfectly. Let the journey begin…

Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves
Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are mostly (70%) a uniform golden color, the remaining 30% are a uniform black color. The leaves consist almost entirely of lightly rolled, unbroken buds, with some medium sized fragments in the mix. There are very few bare stems, and those few are quite thin. Although there are some crumbs, the amount is not much of a concern. The buds have fine hairs on them, giving them a smooth texture. The pluck appears to be a fine hand plucked and unopened leaf, perhaps with a younger bud enveloped inside. The smell carries scents of dried cherries, dark cocoa, cherry wood, roses, and clove. The smell is very attractive and high quality.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two quality infusions from the same serving of leaves. Increase steep time by 1:00 minute on the second infusion.

Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infusion
Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a deep orange-red color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma carries scents of caramel, roses, cherries, clove, cocoa, and cherry wood. The body is full, with a very smooth, velvety texture. It should be noted that despite the full body, this tea is considerably lighter than other non-tippy Assam black teas. There is a very mild astringency. The taste has notes of malt, caramel, roses, cherry, clove, cherry wood, citrus (lemon), and earth (soil). The aftertaste carries the malt, earth, and cherry wood notes. The tea gives a dry feel to the mouth.

Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves
Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves consist almost entirely of buds. Some of the buds are unbroken, with an unopened leaf and no younger bud inside. There is a considerable amount of fragments and crumbs, but nothing out of the ordinary. The buds have a smooth, soft texture. The smell has scents of malt, caramel, cherry, clove, light soil, and light flowers.

In terms of my personal preferences for Assam teas, this Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea ranks high on the list. The appearance and smell of the dry leaves is both impressive and inviting. The color of the infusion is deep and eye catching. The aroma and taste of the infusion are rich, yet not overwhelming. Milk is definitely not necessary to make this a highly palatable and enjoyable Assam tea. The full body and incredibly smooth texture compliment one another very nicely. This tea also did not give me the jittery energy that bolder Assam teas tend to. I infused the leaves twice, and the second infusion, although not quite as good (obviously) as the first, was still tasteful and palatable. Overall, this was an excellent product.

Another thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this sample of Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea. Cheers!

Golden Tips Black Tea from Heritage Tea Assam Company

Although I am always excited to receive packages of samples that I am expecting, receiving an unexpected sample usually helps positively enhance the mood during a day of insurance work. The Heritage Tea Assam Company was the catalyst for having had a more enthusiastic day last week, as they sent a sample of the Golden Tips Black Tea from their factory. A special thanks to Heritage Tea Assam for providing such a pleasant surprise.

This tea is exactly as described, pure golden tips. There are almost no black leaves in this sample whatsoever. I almost thought it was a packet of loose shu pu’er until I took a closer look and realized where the sample had come from. Needless to say that I was much more excited once I realized that it was golden tips from Assam.

The sample packet has been opened, and the aroma is certainly unique from the golden tips of Yunnan. Let the journey begin…

Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves
Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a mostly uniform yellow-gold color, with some black color on stems. The leaves are mostly tips, with some fine leaves and tip fragments in the mix. There are just a few small stem twig fragments in the mix. The pluck is one fine leaf and bud. The leaves are lightly rolled. There is some chalky residue on the leaves, and they have a smooth, soft texture. The leaves snap easily, but do not crumble. The aroma has scents of nutrient rich soil, raw cacao, dried fig, and light valley flowers.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes. The infusion was poured into a separate tasting cup.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect to get two or three infusions from the same serving of leaves. The second and third infusions will be lighter in character than the prior infusion.

Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infusion
Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-orange color, clear and transparent. I have to admit that I was slightly concerned that the chalky residue on the dry leaves would create a cloudy infusion, but this was not the case at all. The liquor is lighter in color than I expected, but is certainly the result of more tips and less leaves. The aroma has very attractive scents of malt, cacao, cloves, and fig, with a hint of fresh baked bread. The body is full, with a juicy, almost wine-like texture. The taste is surprisingly fruity, with dominant notes of fig, and lighter notes of cacao, nutrient rich soil, clove, and valley flowers. The astringency is lighter than most Assam black teas. There is also a candy-like sweetness that I cannot accurately describe at the moment. The aftertaste is malty and pleasantly proportioned.

Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves
Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform light brown color. The leaves are mostly tips fragments, with some whole tips enveloped in a fine leaf. There are a few stem twigs in the mix. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma has scents of cacao, malt, light fig, light baked bread, and very light floral.

I truly appreciate the initiative that Heritage Tea Assam Company is taking in experimenting with the production of specialty types of tea. This Golden Tips Black Tea has an incredible overall quality in the cup, with sweet and fruity aromas and tastes. The hints of fresh baked bread also give this tea a welcoming character. I have never had a tea with such obvious fig hints in the aroma and taste. The texture of the tea liquor is between prune juice and a lighter style of red wine. If basing the success of a review on the tea liquor itself, then this product is definitely a success!

One recommendation that I would give is that more attention be paid to the tips during processing. Although the general gold appearance of the tips was in line with the similar style teas of Yunnan, the product was mostly tip fragments. Perhaps it is simply the content of the sample packet that I received, or the handling during shipment that broke the fragile tips. However, I personally do like to see whole tips as I believe that whole tips and leaves present a more aesthetically pleasing product, and suggest a high level of care during production. I have always been impressed with the visual aspects of high quality Yunnan golden tip teas. I have full confidence in Heritage Tea Assam Company that they are working diligently to perfect the production of this tea. As I mentioned before, and would like to repeat, the quality of the tea liquor was simply incredible! There is no concern on my end about that aspect of this product!

Thank you very much to the management at Heritage Tea Assam Company for providing me with this sample! As always, I enjoyed every moment of this analysis! Cheers!

 

Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea from Heritage Tea Assam Co.

I received a package of samples today that I have been eagerly waiting to receive for some time. Therefore, I had to put everything else aside and do a review. Today I will be focusing on the Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea direct from the Heritage Tea Assam Company, located in Dibrugarh, India.

Heritage Tea Assam Company is one of the few tea growers and manufacturers in the Assam district that are committed to producing high-quality loose teas, and not simply producing CTC teas for the mass market. I was having a rather difficult time finding such a company in Assam that produced above-average quality teas, and when I originally emailed Heritage Tea Assam, I had not heard back in weeks and assumed the worst. I later found out that severe storms had damaged communication lines in to the town. I was quite excited to see the reply email when it did arrive.

So now I have a few products here that I have not had before, high-quality orthodox Assam black, white, green, and even a smoked tea which smells intriguing! Naturally, I had to go with the best black tea first, as this is what Assam is known for.

As a quick reminder to those who may not be aware of what makes teas from the Assam district so unique from the teas of China or Darjeeling, the variety of tea bush that is grown in Assam is the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica, known for having larger and broader leaves than the Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis variety, and producing a fuller body and stronger tasting liquor. Many of the different breakfast blends contain at least some black tea from Assam.

The sample packet has been opened, and the bold smell of malt is already dominating the room. Let the journey begin…

Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea Dry Leaves
Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark reddish-brown to black color, with a generous portion of golden tips. The leaves are rolled, and are all small to medium sized fragments. There is a moderate amount of crumbs, and some bare stems in the mix. The aroma is strong and sweet, with scents of cocoa, malt, dried fruit, and wood.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron Tetsubin. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea 1st Infusion
Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, deep red color, mostly clear and transparent, with a very slight “cream down” effect. The aroma is bold, with scents of malt, roses, and wood. The body is full, with a smooth texture. The taste is mouth-filling, with a strong astringency, and notes of malt, wood, light citrus, and light roses. The aftertaste is sweet and astringent, and the astringent character lingers in the mouth for a respectable amount of time.

Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea 2nd Infusion
Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea 2nd Infusion

One minute was added to the infusion time for the second infusion, bringing the total to 4:00 minutes. The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter color, displaying more of an orange-red color, with the cream down effect no longer noticeable. This liquor is perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has lightened, but retains scents of malt, light roses, and wood. The body has lightened some, and the texture has thinned. The taste retains a fairly strong astringency, however lighter than the first infusion. Lighter notes of malt, citrus, and wood remain. The aftertaste and essence have lightened.

Due to a lack of time and assumption that the third infusion will be quite light, I decided to pass on preparing the third infusion.

Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea Infused Leaves
Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark copper color. All leaves are small and medium fragments. There are a few bare stems in the mix, as well as a respectable portion of tips averaging about 0.75 inches (15 to 20 mm) in length. The aroma has scents of malt, wood, and light flowers.

This Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea is exactly what I was looking for in a high-quality Assam black tea. The color of the first infusion was deep and beautiful. The aroma and taste were robust and eye-opening. The body was full, yet the texture is smooth. This tea can definitely replace coffee in the morning, for those of you who care to try switching. The second infusion is certainly flavorful enough to enjoy also. Considering the amount of tips in the mix, I am expecting the other samples from Heritage Assam with less tips to be even stronger in flavor. That will be a welcome adventure. It will also be interesting to taste the silver tips white teas and the green teas. Stay tuned.

Thank you to Heritage Assam Tea for your generosity in providing these excellent samples! I look forward to reviewing the other teas included in the package. Cheers!